Don’t be fooled. Bill O’Reilly was not kicked out off Fox News because of great moral indignation. Yes, morale at the network is low; yes, women who work at Fox were indignant; and yes, the thought of a powerful personality harassing those in weaker positions is reprehensible.
What got O’Reilly to lose his job was money. More than 50 advertisers pulled their ads after it was revealed that 21st Century Fox, the parent company for Fox Broadcasting, paid over $13 million to five of his accusers.
Many already knew about the accusations of O’Reilly’s inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment and verbal abuse, toward women. The publicity about his actions has been long and extensively reported. But the host of The O’Reilly Factor, the number one rated cable news program, was given a pass, over and over, mostly because cases were settled, quietly and out-of-court. O’Reilly always insisted he was innocent of any wrongdoing and Rupert Murdoch, who was then the Fox chairman/chief executive officer, was a powerful ally.
The proverbial waste product hit the fan when The New York Times revealed just how much money 21st Century Fox doled out to protect their star anchor. The outrage was immediate, with many women’s groups – and others – demanding his resignation. One of the very few who publicly voiced support for O’Reilly was Donald J. Trump.
Let’s get real. Yes, there were multiple reports that Murdoch’s sons,
But then advertisers acted. And by acting, I mean pulling their ads. According to Kantar Media, a research company, The O’Reilly Factor generated over $442 million in advertising for Fox over a two year period. With advertisers fleeing, the bottom line was bound to be impacted.
So O’Reilly got the boot. A golden boot – he will receive, according to various reports, one year’s salary worth about $25 million.
I wouldn’t say this was a hard or costly lesson for 21st Century Fox. The silver lining is that Lachlan and James Murdoch can now show they are sincerely committed to changing their organization’s culture, and using the past as an example of what cannot be permitted or tolerated in the work environment. If not, it will always be about the money. And that would be unfortunate. Bigly.
About the Author: Jennefer Witter is the CEO/Founder of The Boreland Group, a